Expectations are high as the new year begins for the Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon. With increased attendance in 2013, organizers expect a trend of growth to contin­ue. And to ensure that is the case, the bar has been set high for the inaugural 2014 event.


Pete Winemiller, Senior Vice President, Guest Re­lations for the Okla­homa City Thunder will serve as the keynote speaker at the luncheon. The event is slated for noon, Thurs­day at the Ardmore Con­vention Center. Jennifer Crosby, communications and events coordinator for the Ardmore Cham­ber of Commerce, said a large crowd is expected for Winemiller’s presen­tation.


“We are excited to have someone as distinguished and notable as Mr. Win­emiller speak at the lun­cheon,” Crosby said. “The Thunder has established themselves as one of the preeminent organizations in the NBA. Oklahomans identify with the Thun­der and we are honored to have one of the men responsible for the fan ex­perience visit Ardmore.” Winemiller has been with the organization since 1995. He is charged with creating repeat cus­tomers in a business envi­ronment where you can’t control the level of success on the court but can con­trol what happens in the stands in the customer experience.


During Winemiller’s tenure with the Thunder, the organization has won several awards for its work in creating a top-flight en­tertainment experience. In 2010, the American Business Awards recog­nized the Thunder with the Gold STEVIE, which is one of the nation's top business awards, as Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year. In 2012, the organization was recognized as the 2012 Gold Award winner in the Customer Experience category of the coveted Gartner & 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Awards.


The team has also been recognized by ESPN The Magazine in its ultimate standings as the No. 1 professional sports franchise in North America and was awarded the Sports Team of the Year by the Sports Business Awards, which are presented by the Sports Business Journal.


Winemiller has also received personal accolades, having been selected in 2013 as the Chief Customer Officer of the Year by the Chief Customer Officer Council. Winemiller has been a keynote speaker and featured presenter at numerous customer service conferences throughout the country.


Because of recent growth in the Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon, an RSVP is requested by Tuesday to attend the event. To RSVP, contact the chamber at (580) 223-7765.